Associate Professor, Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science
When I was younger, I dreamed that one day I would grow up, go to college, serve a mission, get married and have a family. However, God had another plan for my life. Looking back, I can see God’s hands in every step of my journey and although very difficult at times because of not finding an eternal companion, through the years I came to understand myself better and recognize that with God’s help I really could find joy in the journey, as President Thomas S. Monson has taught. Through prayer, following the Spirit, and being true to myself, I found the path that God wanted me to take and knew could bring me great joy, despite not having what I most desired—a husband and children.
After my mission, because of a promise I had made to myself in the mission field, I chose not to work on Sundays; this was difficult for me because the restaurant I had worked at before my mission was familiar to me and I rejoiced in reuniting with many of my former co-workers. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one decision changed the course of my life and led me to my current position at Brigham Young University. With time, I was able to instead secure a job working as a research and teaching assistant for several different faculty, which opened the doors to potential avenues for graduate work. I had one faculty member in particular who helped me at a critical point in knowing if I should pursue medical school or public health. Through a lot of pondering and prayer, I decided that public health seemed a better fit for me.
After starting school, I had no doubt that I was in the right place and thoroughly enjoyed the coursework, faculty, and students I met. I had opportunities to intern at a federal health agency and to work on research projects with one leading to an oral presentation at a professional meeting and one leading to a peer-reviewed publication. When I found myself still unmarried at the end of my master’s degree, it brought much heartache because the righteous desire that I most wanted had not happened. With some encouragement from family members, I decided I had an opportunity to pursue further graduate work, and because I was not married, had more flexibility in relocating.
Pursuing a PhD required immense dedication and perseverance, and was very challenging at times; at one point I doubted if I had made the right decision or if I really was capable of achieving a doctoral degree. With prayer, the strong answer that came was that I was in the right place and that God expected me to work even harder, to keep pursuing what I had started. Many days were still extremely challenging, but through a lot of prayer and support of family and friends, I was able to complete my doctoral work. During this time, a former faculty member who I had worked for as an undergraduate student and who knew I was pursuing a PhD, recommended my name for a faculty position at BYU. Surprisingly, while pursuing my PhD, I had never considered pursuing a career as a university faculty member; my plan was to find a full-time job at a federal health agency. God again had a different plan for my life. I was honored and flattered that the former faculty member from my undergraduate years had recommended me for a job; hence, I could not pass up the opportunity to interview for the position.
Coming to campus, I knew in my heart that if BYU offered me a job, this is where God wanted me to be. When I was offered the job and accepted, I had no idea the blessings that would come into my life because of being a faculty member at BYU. I feel privileged to work at BYU, associating with students and other faculty, having the ability to bring religion into classrooms, informal conversations, and meetings. I feel my employment at BYU is more than a career, it is a stewardship to be an example of Jesus Christ and to help my students more fully commit themselves to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to help them to achieve their life dreams, even when those dreams end up looking different than they anticipated.
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